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Eric Schmidt to step down as executive chair of Google parent Alphabet

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, discusses Canada's ever-more-prominent place in the tech industry with former Google CEO and Alphabet chair Eric Schmidt at Google Canada's Go North conference on Nov. 2.

Google parent Alphabet Inc. has announced that Eric Schmidt, its founding chair and the search engine giant’s CEO between 2001 and 2011, will be stepping down from his current position.

In a Thursday release, Alphabet revealed that as of January 2018, Schmidt will transition from his current position as executive chair of Alphabet’s board of directors to a technical advisor role, though he would continue to serve on its board.

“Since 2001, Eric has provided us with business and engineering expertise and a clear vision about the future of technology,” Alphabet CEO Larry Page said in a Dec. 21 press release. “Continuing his 17 years of service to the company, he’ll now be helping us as a technical advisor on science and technology issues. I’m incredibly excited about the progress our companies are making, and about the strong leaders who are driving that innovation.”

In the same release, Schmidt said “Larry [page], [cofounder] Sergey [Brin], [Google CEO] Sundar [Pichai] and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition.”

“The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the other bets are thriving,” Schmidt said in the statement. “In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work.”

Originally hired by Google cofounders Page and Brin to run Google in 2001, Schmidt oversaw the company’s growth from search engine to online advertising giant, and received a $100 million equity award in 2011 when he stepped down.

In addition to Alphabet, he’s served on the boards of Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, and even Apple Inc. between 2006 and 2009.

With Schmidt now shifting to an advisory role, Alphabet anticipates appointing a non-executive chair, the company said.